Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Feb. 22, 2007)
Imagine your backyard without modern landscaping. Picture your neighborhood without
buildings, roads or vehicles.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|This feisty raccoon,
surrounded by ancient shells and fossils, doesnt realize
hes dining at a mound site of an ancient Tocobago
As if you could be suddenly transported back 9,000 to 12,000 years, try to
visualize what life was like on the very land you walk and play upon today.
Imagine what it may have looked like to view 14-foot-tall mammoths grazing where
our front yards are groomed today. Sabertooth tigers stealthily hunting while
sloths the size of elephants grazed upon meadows.
Among the many other animals that are larger ancestors to the mammals we have
today, were giant moose and beavers as large as bears. Mastodon, tapir, box turtle,
deer, diamondback rattlesnake, opossum, and raccoon lived on what we call home
Did you know that Pinellas County was also bountiful in aboriginal activity with
more than 1,800 historical and archaeological sites listed in the Florida Site
File? Some of these sites are historical structures, but others are where
aboriginals hunted and lived. Numerous sites are ancient Indian mounds. Scientific
records indicate that pre-historic Indians of Florida inhabited this area as far
back as 12,000 years ago.
Floridas Paleo-Indians (12,000 B.C.) hunted animals with spears and
Pre-ceramic Archaic Indians (6500 B.C.) living along the west coast of Florida
were fishermen and gatherers. They hunted small animals such as rabbits and deer
and also gathered roots, berries and leaves.
The Potters Ceramic Archaic (2000 B.C.) were the people of the Florida
Transitional Period, i.e. the Deptford Culture, Manasota Culture, Glades Culture.
This was a time of cultural change, variations in lifestyle and a fairly extensive
network of trade routes between the peoples that encouraged individualized
Florida Transitional (1000 B.C.) built many inland villages and trade routes.
Pottery tempered with sand and limestone. (Indian Mounds, You Can
Visit by I. Mac Perry).
The Fishers (300 A.D.) were the Weedon Island culture. Much has been discovered
about these people through the clues they left behind at burial sites and ancient
villages. Hunters and plant gatherers, these people also traveled great distances
Some of the traditions of later Indians can be traced back to this culture such as
the Black Drink Ceremony, Pipe Ceremonies, Burial Ceremonies and the development of
totemic clans. The Black Drink was a concentrated caffeine drink made from a shrub
that can be found in our gardens today, Yaupon, Ilex vomitoura Aiton.
Archaeologists discovered stone and clay pipes and pottery from this period in
Florida. Some of the pipes from the Weedon Island culture reveal an artistic
handling of stone carved into natural images.
The Mound Builders (1000 A.D.) were the Mississippian Indians. In our area they
were called the Safety Harbor people with the tribal name of Tocabaga. These people
built mounds for ceremony, temples, and burials, caches of discarded shells and
bones and to house the chief.
In 1528, Panfilo de Narvaez was the first non-Indian to explore the United States.
From the moment Narvaez raised the Spanish flag at the Jungle Prada site, Florida
was changed forever. Acknowledging himself as governor, he then began to brutally
harm and kill the Indians, which set precedence for Indian/white relations from
that era on.
Today mounds give us a glimpse into the past of how our landscape and nature may
have appeared 1,000 years ago and more. Visiting these sites provide wonderful
opportunities for parents to teach their children about our past.
There are several areas in Pinellas County where one can visit for a day:
Arrowhead Middens, Tierra Verde Burial Mound, Maximo Point Mounds, Canton Street
Midden, Pinellas Point Temple Mound, Pinellas Point Midden, Narvaez Mounds at
Jungle Prada, Bayshore Homes Midden, Johns Pass Burial Mound, Barrier Island
Mounds, Bay Pines Mounds, Weedon Island Mounds, Safety Harbor Mounds, Philippe Park
Temple Mound and Middens, Safford Burial Mound, Anclote Temple Mound, Dunedin
Temple Mound, Clearwater Shell Midden and Four Mile Bayou Village.
Please remember its unlawful to remove anything from these historic
archaeological sites. Be respectful when visiting these sites. Take only pictures.
Leave only footprints.
For more information visit www.sacredlands.info and www.tampabayhistorycenter.org/1stpeople.htm.
For an in-depth description of mounds and where to find them, purchase a copy of
Indian Mounds, You Can Visit by I. Mac Perry. Indian Mounds is one of
the most comprehensive, informative and well written books on ancient mounds in our
In less than 500 years weve drastically changed our natural surroundings
until were ravaged by brushfires, water shortages, sinkholes, air, noise and
water pollution and unexplained violence. These people lived in harmony with this
same land for more than 10,000 years. Studying our past helps us find answers and
connections for our challenging future
back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.